They said Bob Beamon's long jump record would never be broken, and look what happened. They said Lou Gehrig's consecutive-game streak would never be threatened, and look what Cal Ripken is doing. Which leaves one to query whether any sports record is truly inviolable. Our answer is yes, and we offer these 10 achievements as evidence, listed in order of unbreakability.
1) Glenn Hall's 502 consecutive complete games in goal (1955-62). It has been nearly 30 years since any goalie played every game in even one season. Enough said.
2) Ty Cobb's .367 career batting average (1905-28). Unimpeachable. The closest contender in recent times? Wade Boggs (career average: .338), who, by hitting .259 this season, suggested that Cobb can rest in peace.
3) Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak (1941). Yes, Pete Rose got close, sort of, with 44. But modern media madness alone assures that no man will eclipse the Yankee Clipper.
4) The Boston Celtics' eight straight NBA championships (1959-66). Consider this: There have been as many three-peat champions in the NBA since 1966 as there have been three-peat presidents in the U.S. since '66. Eight-peat? Octo-peat? Huit-peat? Forget it.
5) Wilt Chamberlain's 100 points in a game (1962). Although it might rank as the most imposing record in sports history, who today would want it? When Michael Jordan scores 50, the game is promptly branded a badly balanced effort by the Bulls.
6) UCLA's seven straight NCAA basketball Championships (1967-73). Since '73, only Duke (in 1991 and '92) has been able to wear the crown two seasons in a row.
7) The Los Angeles Lakers' 33-game winning streak (1971-72). Given that no team has won more than 18 consecutive games since 1972, we would argue that even the Dream Team could not match this Teat.
8) Jack Nicklaus's 20 major golf championships (1959-1992). Bobby [ones, with 12 majors, remains a distant second. The record would appear particularly sale in today's egalitarian golf world in which Nick Faldo is the only current player under age 40 to have have won even four majors.
9) Rocky Marciano's 49-0 heavyweight record (1947-55). Evander Holyfield is the closest challenger, with a 28-0 record. Extrapolating from his light schedule over the last two years, Holyfield would surpass the Brockton Blockbuster's record in May 2003, at age 40. Any bets?